Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Haunting sounds

I have been working for some time now on sounds of the Troubles in Belfast and it seems almost eerie to hear how someone else's description of the aftermath of an explosion echoes with my own.  In one instance, a recording features the noise of a bomb with the blast and the breaking glass and a man who had witnessed the blast, which happened at a bus station, describes the moments after the explosion, 'It was so quiet, not a sound of a bird or anything'  -  my poem After starts with the line 'and no birds sing'  -  my own experience echoed in another's.

Another person who experienced the same bombing goes on to say how there was 'lots of smoke and fire from the building  . . .  people seemed to be going in and out, as if they were going in and out of clouds'. Again, I experienced several times over how people would disappear into the smoke of a blast and you didn't know until afterwards if they were alive or dead.

A woman describes an explosion that she experienced when she was only a child, going to the sweet shop to buy sweeties. Of the moments after the blast, she says, 'I just remember this deadly silence, you know, like deafened, I felt really deafened and I couldn't hear, I really couldn't hear but I know that we were screaming and panicking . . . and I think we held onto each other, we just screamed at each other  . . .  as nine year olds, we thought we were going to die in the shop'.

I felt this sense of silence, especially after one explosion when I fully believed myself to be dead, when I didn't hear the blast, just felt the push before I blacked out. When I finally came round and did hear again, which didn't happen for a while, it was like bursting into a world of sound and technicolour all at once.

Now I have been working for some time on my large piece which is as yet untitled.

This is a detail from the piece which will take some time to finish, so this is just the beginning. Images from a black and white photograph have been blown up in size and inkjet printed onto A3 sheets of cotton fabric prepared for printing. All these cotton sheets have then been stitched onto a calico background and stitching has begun, as with my recent work, all by hand. With a colour scheme of burnt browns to indicate the area singed by the fire of an explosion, some silk-painted organza fabrics have been laid down.
This image is not of a particular car explosion that I had experienced but I am stitching my memories onto a detail which I extracted from a photograph of an incident of the time, in this case, what became known as the Miami Showband Massacre. A land rover which was involved in an incident which I was very close to, had held four occupants, police officers, two men and two women and it was reduced to a heap of mangled metal; they were taken to hospital and I do not know if they lived or died.

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